Preserving meadow habitats throughout the Stanislaus National Forest

Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) member Leonel Solorio is working with Tuolumne River Trust as the Sierra Nevada Restoration Specialist. Leonel assists with thousands of acres of ongoing forest health and restoration efforts. Tasks include restoration monitoring with an emphasis on reforestation, botany survey quality assurance, and fuel reduction monitoring. He also assists with restoration projects involving meadow health, trail maintenance, restoration projects along the Wild and Scenic stretch of the Tuolumne, and volunteer recruitment.

Throughout the Stanislaus National Forest, Leonel has been working on assessing meadows for future restoration. Throughout the Summer, Leonel and his team of fellow SNAP members, along with River and Meadow Restoration Program Director Julia Stephens,  have visited meadows marked as ‘High Priority’ by the Sierra Meadows Prioritization Tool developed by UC Davis and Point Blue Conservation Science. Using the American Rivers Meadow Scorecard, they documented streambank erosion, vegetation cover, and conifer encroachment.

Leonel also has the opportunity to fly Tuolumne River Trust’s drone to capture aerial imagery and identify stream channels that are difficult to see from the ground. This work will establish a basis for future grant applications to restore these meadows and future outreach on the importance of meadow restoration.

Tuolumne River Trust’s core mission involves restoring the Stanislaus National Forest and the headwaters that feed the Tuolumne River. Meadows serve as floodplains for storing water, attenuating floods that would worsen downstream conditions and that would increase streambank erosion. Increased groundwater storage also helps to reduce high-severity wildfire and mass soil erosion that results from wildfires. Not only are meadows important hotspots for wildlife and plants, but they’re important habitats for fish and amphibian species that are vital for healthy waters. Healthy meadows bolster the resilience of the forest to severe climate incidents and help protect mountain communities from wildfires.

The Sierra Nevada provides the headwaters that feed all Californians. Not only does most of California’s drinking and irrigation water come from the region, but it also provides world-class recreation. Protecting the health of the Sierra Nevada also means protecting towns and communities from catastrophic wildfire.

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